NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans will soon be the fifth-oldest stadium in the NFL.
The LSED, the state board that manages the dome, is proposing what would be the most extensive and expensive renovations to the building since it opened in 1975.
The $450 million, four-phase project would be completed over four years around the Saints season and a couple of major events scheduled for the venue.
“It’s about creating different experiences for the fan,” Superdome Spokesman Mike Hoss said. “Today’s fan in the NFL is different from our 1970s fan.”
There were major renovations at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to the building in 2005. Additional stadium upgrades were completed in 2011.
With new stadiums being built across the NFL, a new series of renovations are now needed to stay competitive, Hoss said.
“This building is iconic,” Hoss said. We want to save this building for the next generation.
Phase one calls for the removal of about 80,000 feet of ramps inside the dome. They would be replaced by a series of more fan-friendly stairs, escalators and elevators.
Future phases may include new club lounges, end zone level luxury boxes and standing room only viewing decks.
“We are looking at elements we can do here to increase the experience without having to build a new stadium,” Hoss said.
A new stadium would cost more than $1 billion to build, but New Orleans fans love the team and have supported them in the past.
“They put up the new stadium for Dallas,” one fan told WWL-TV. “It’s like the Taj Mahal. New Orleans should have a Taj Mahal for our Saints.”
But some questioned the practical aspects of a new stadium.
“If you’re going to build a new stadium where would you put it and where would you come up with the funding for it,” another fan said.
Hoss maintains there is no pressure to replace the Superdome.
“The Saints love this building,” Hoss said. “This building has a phenomenal brand across the state, so there’s not this great fervor that we have heard in years past for a new stadium.”
The Superdome Commission still has to line up the funding for the renovations. The Saints have pledged $150 million toward the project with the remainder coming from the LSED and the state.
Superdome officials are now expected to go before the state bond commission this summer. The commission must sign off on the financing before work can begin.
If approved, construction on phase one would start after the upcoming football season.